Arts & Culture


The Man Who Brought the Melting Pot to the Stage

By Ethan Kanfer

From the Ghetto to the Melting Pot: Israel Zangwill’s Jewish Plays By Israel Zangwill Edited by Edna Nahshon Wayne State University Press 363 pages, $34.95. * * *Long before “diversity” became a cultural buzzword, playwright and novelist Israel Zangwill coined a phrase that would become an indelible part of America’s language ofRead More


‘Adele’ Gets Her Close-up

By Hindi Diamond

Maria Altmann has had some year. On January 15 — one month before her 90th birthday — a Viennese court ordered the Republic of Austria to give up all claims to five Gustav Klimt paintings and return them to their rightful owner, Altmann and her family, who are based in Los Angeles. Then, Altmann — whose aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer, was theRead More


Somewhere in Africa

By Jacob Suskewicz

The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo By Peter Orner Little, Brown, 320 pages, $23.95. * * *Larry Kaplanski’s name says it all, bringing to mind used car dealers or traveling salesmen wearing old striped shirts and older blazers, balding, doggedly fumbling for the keys to their Buick LeSabre as they move on to the next Midwestern town inRead More


Sacred Massacre

By Lore Segal

The first commandment, which says God is the only God, that He is the God of the Children of Israel whom He brought out of Egypt; that we must worship no other gods and obey His laws, precedes, in order and import, the law to which intuition gives pride of place, the commandment not to kill.God, like the state, can command us to kill. “WhoeverRead More


Lower East Side Story

By Saul Austerlitz

Up from Orchard Street Eleanor Widmer Bantam, 400 pages, $23. * * *Orchard Street: The name alone conjures images from the collective memory, snapshots of street peddlers, of rat-infested tenements, of aged scholars pacing the streets, their sidelocks rhythmically clapping against their ears. For readers of Jewish literature, the Lower EastRead More


The Jewish Salsero

By Elissa Strauss

In 1957, a 19-year-old named Lawrence Kahn traveled to Cuba after being entranced by the Latin music he had been hearing in New York City. Concerned that the Cubans would have trouble pronouncing his name, he dropped the Kahn and changed his name to Larry Harlow. The switch proved useless, first because Harlow wasn’t any easierRead More


Found in Translation

By Daniel Septimus

Nestled between Arab East Jerusalem, the ultra-Orthodox mecca of Meah Shearim, and the cafés and pubs of Zion Square is the neighborhood of Musrara. Fittingly, this crossroads is home to Ibis Editions, a small book press specializing in literature of the Levant, works that blur the boundaries between time, place and language.Ibis is theRead More


Cracking Gum –– and Stereotypes

By Andrew Furman

How This Night Is Different By Elisa Albert Free Press, 199 pages, $18. * * *‘In her backpack for Auschwitz, Shayna Markowitz packs the following,” begins one story in Elisa Albert’s debut fiction collection, “How This Night Is Different.” The sardonic, mischievous wit of such a line, and of the collection as a whole, setsRead More


An Experiment Becomes a Showpiece

By Wayne Hoffman

Something big is happening in the smallest room of the Judah L. Magnes Museum.When Alla Efimova was hired as chief curator of the Jewish art museum in 2003 — overseeing a venerable Judaica collection she calls “encyclopedic and global” — she first asked herself: “How can we renew the collection and make it relevant again?” AsRead More


Rediscovering Isaac Rosenfeld

By Benjamin Balint

This week’s 50th yahrzeit of Isaac Rosenfeld, a brilliant and unjustly forgotten writer who belonged to a brilliant moment in American Jewish writing, offers a good occasion to measure the distance between that moment and our own.Rosenfeld’s story is a strange amalgam of success and failure. Born in Chicago, Rosenfeld was a prodigy, at leastRead More


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